4.16.2008

GEOTHERMAL IS SO 1990's

A nice piece in today's Inky about the Friends Center's use of geothermal technology to heat and cool its new office complex: "Energy From the Ground Up." While upfront installation is much more costly, lower energy consumption means a payback period of six to eight years. Good for the bottom line, and good for the environment.

Of course, I have to take this opportunity to salute my former boss, Della Clark, for understanding this double payoff over a decade ago. She has been at the helm of The Enterprise Center, my previous employer, since 1992; and shortly after her arrival there, she set about buying and renovating the old American Bandstand studio at 46th and Market Streets in West Philadelphia.

Salesperson and visionary that she is, she decided to go geothermal. Specifically, we drilled 66 wells in our parking lot. At 200 feet deep, the water is 56 degrees year-round. Circulating that through our building gets you a much easier starting point to room temperature than 20 degree or 80 degree air outside. (Plus the symbolism of water coursing through the building was too rich for us to pass up.)

She was able to convince utility companies, energy thinktanks, and the system manufacturer to help cover the cost differential between geothermal and a traditional system, so The Enterprise Center started off at zero and has saved money since Day 1. To this day, some 11+ years after we moved in, I'd put our 35,000 square foot facility against any in the region, in terms of energy efficiency. I'm glad the mainstream media is getting hip to geothermal, and gladder still to have worked for a boss who "got it" over a decade earlier.
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